Water is weird. Everyone knows the chemical symbol for water is H2O, and that all living things need water to survive. Here are eight facts about weird water that you might not know!
1. Water is alien. All water on earth arrived as ice on asteroids and comets from space.
2. All water on earth has been recycled through animals, plants, rocks, oceans, and clouds. In other words, you’re drinking dinosaur pee.
3. Water doesn’t follow the normal rules of chemistry. Water is made of two elements: oxygen and hydrogen, both of which are very light. The rules of chemistry say that on earth, liquid water should not exist. Instead, if water followed the rules, it would exist on earth only as water vapor.
4. Water is the only chemical that expands when it goes from a liquid to a solid. Because solid water, aka ice, is less dense than liquid water, ice floats. This allows ice to insulate the liquid water underneath it. Without this unique property, life would not have survived earth’s many ice ages.
5. Hot water freezes faster than cold water, and no one knows why. This is known as the Mpemba effect, named after the Tanzanian student who discovered this phenomenon.
6. Water molecules are so good at sticking to each other that they can overcome the force of gravity. In biology, this is called capillary action and is the mechanism that allows plants to move water from their roots to their leaves. This unique property of water also allows oxygen and nutrients to reach the outermost edges of your brain.
7. Water is the second most common molecule in the universe, after molecular hydrogen. There’s water on Mars, the moon, and almost every other object in our solar system, including Pluto.
8. Water is a universal solvent. Water is able to break most chemical bonds and dissolve most chemicals. It is very difficult to create pure water even in a laboratory setting, as nearly all chemical compounds will dissolve in water. This makes water one of the most reactive compounds known to man.